Ella Warwick has worked in speciality coffee as a barista for four years, a role that turned from a part-time job during studies into a passion that she is looking to make a career. Originally from Essex where she spent three years in the trade, Ella nows works in Newcastle at Laneway Coffee Company alongside studies at University of Durham. In this interview, she outlines the different stages of her career in coffee and provides recommendations for baristas looking to develop their skills and progress in the industry.

When did you start your career in coffee and how did you come across the industry?
My career in coffee began when I was only 16 years old and living down in Essex. I got my first job in a café and making coffee soon became something I was passionate about. However, I was frustrated that the coffee I made didn’t taste nice and I could never pour latte art like the videos I would watch. I decided to go on a coffee course in London with Origin Coffee Roasters, where I was introduced to the speciality coffee industry and fell in love with this craft. After this course, I found my first job in speciality coffee in a café in Essex called New Ground. This job taught me everything I needed to know about brewing, dialling in espresso, texturing milk and pouring latte art. Since I was finally able to learn the right techniques in order to brew an amazing cup of coffee, my passion for the job grew even stronger. Since this first job in speciality coffee, I have dedicated four years of my life to broadening my skillset and learning more about how to better myself as a barista and enthusiast.

What's the status of specialty coffee in Newcastle?
I have been brewing coffee in Newcastle for just over three months now and have already learned much about the speciality coffee industry here. While speciality coffee is quite a recent addition to Newcastle’s streets, with most cafes appearing within the last 10 years, it’s clear that an appreciation for great cups of coffee is growing and growing. Speciality coffee shops are popping up frequently, some opening even in the short time that I’ve worked here, and customers are eager to show their appreciation when I serve them a truly great cup of coffee. I think as more people begin to seek out speciality coffee and more cafes begin to open, the standard for speciality coffee is going to keep rising and rising and this is something that greatly excites me.

What types of people are suited to working in coffee?
Anyone who is passionate about coffee and has the time to dedicate to learning and perfecting a craft. For me, making coffee wasn’t something I learned overnight. It took years of practicing and experimenting with techniques until I found what worked best for me. Working in coffee is also a job suited to those who are confident and friendly, a smile goes a long way! One thing that is also overlooked with this job is how much hard work goes into it. It’s easy to think that making coffee is an relaxing job, however it really takes someone extremely dedicated and methodical in order to produce consistently great cups of coffee in a fast-paced environment and continue to give amazing customer service at the same time

If someone is new to coffee and looking to start out, what would you recommend they start with?
I would recommend first looking into the background of speciality coffee. Knowledge is very important when brewing coffee, knowing where your coffee has come from and how it’s processed is of great importance in understanding why we make coffee the way we do. This is a great way to begin. I would also recommend going to a coffee course at a roastery, even touring a roastery to see what processes are taken. My passion grew from a coffee course, and it gives you a big helping hand into understanding the industry and gaining a few basic skills from which you can develop.

Are there some central blog posts or websites that you go to gain more knowledge, develop further skills?
For me, YouTube is the main place that I go to for knowledge and inspiration. There is a wealth of knowledge, with videos from World Barista Champions such as James Hoffmann and many other influential figures. I like to sink down a YouTube hole, watching lots of different videos about all aspects of coffee. Growing my skills and knowledge isn’t like homework but something I enjoy and that entertains me.

What's next for your career? What's on the horizon and what goals do you have for the coming three years?
For the moment, I am enjoying just working in a speciality coffee shop. However, I do aspire to get more into different roles within the coffee industry in the future, such as a Trainer or Account Manager for a roastery. I have discovered during my time in the industry that I really enjoy training and I have gained a wealth of knowledge about coffee, so I’d love to work in some different roles where I can continue expanding these skills. As someone who has worked up and down the country, I am really enjoying working in the coffee industry in Newcastle and am looking forward to watching and hopefully aiding in its expansion in the years to come.

Follow Ella on Instagram via @brewtiful_coffee